PINspired: Mostly Recipes

I decided to discontinue to link-up for my PINspired series, because the past few months I've only had Callie sign up.  (Thanks Callie for supporting me!)  

But I don't want to discontinue the series because I like it... Sooooo, here are the Pinterest Pins that I've tackled throughout the month of October.  Enjoy!

Parmesan Garlic Potatoes

These are sooooo good... and with sour cream, omg.  Definitely a keeper.

CrockPot Chicken and Stuffing

Tried this the other night and it was just bleh.  I really don't understand why it had to cook all day when I could make the same meal in 20 minutes.  It just wasn't good enough.  And really, I've realized that I don't like cream of chicken soup recipes... so I should stop trying to make them.  

Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

Yes!  Finally asparagus I can get down without forcing myself.  These were good good good.  Even Marco liked them!  He kept saying they were crackers... and we were like, yeeeeeeah, have more crackers! haha.  

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Yuuummmoooo... these were delish!  I added carrots to it also because it blended well and it was so tasty that everyone had seconds!

Spaghetti Squash

Can you believe that I had NEVER had Spaghetti Squash before?  Crazy, right?!  So I made it the other day in place of pasta... but I baked it for too long, so it didn't come out looking like spaghetti.  It looked more like risotto... or mush.  The taste was fine, but the consistency was wrong.  Now I know to bake it for only 45 minutes.  We'll be trying this again soon.  Gotta keep finding ways to sneak in those veggies.  

Sausage and Egg Casserole
Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

I made this for my MOPS meeting last week and let me just tell you that it was easy-peasy and absolutely amazing.  Everyone ate it all up and there were no leftovers.  My only change was that I used 8 eggs instead of 6 to make it a little more fluffy.  This is a no brainer for holidays.

BEST App Ever

Every mom should download this app now... right now... do it.  It's called Red Stamp and it's free and it will simplify your life when it comes to sending cards... thank you's, invites, etc.  There is something for every occasion.  And they are wicked cute.  I have been able to snap a photo of my kids wearing or playing with their latest gift and directly email or text it to the gift giver with a "thank you card".  It's great.  Get it. 

WBD: A Post by my HUSBAND!

Today I'm linking up with Allie from Table For More, (I love her) and Kay from Life After for their weekly link-up called :

This should be fun!  

This week, we were asked to get our HUSBAND's to answer the questions... basically blog for us.  Ummm, Mauricio does NOT blog.  It was pain staking and I may or may not have had to bribe him with "favors" in order to go through with it.  (TMI? Maybe...)

It took him THREE tries, but eventually he hunkered down and did it. 

I sent him the questions to read over and his first response was:

The answer to all of these questions is... boobs

Reeeeeal mature...

So I told him to try again...

His second response was:

I feel like this is a plot for wives to force open conversations about these topics with their husbands.

Can you say STALLING?!  

But finally, third time was the charm.  

Here are Mauricio's answer's for Wedded Bliss Wednesday!  Enjoy!

What was the first thing you noticed about your wife?
-The way she commanded the room and unwillingly had everyone's attention.  Kind of intimidating at first, but it was nothing a little game of "hard to get"  (on my part) couldn't solve.

When you first started dating your wife, what kept you calling/asking her out?
- Well when I first started to date her, she didn't quite know about it because I hadn't actually told her yet so a majority of my efforts were on getting her up to speed with all the date she had missed and actually getting her to agree to join me for one.  Once that was out of the way, I had a moral obligation on behalf of all daters to call her back and try to correct all the mistakes I made from the previous date.  It was a tough mountain to climb, but here we are I guess! 

What is your wife's best quality? 
She's the bravest person I know.  Some would say she's got some crazy chutzpah, or cara-de-pau, or nerves of steel. Things (mostly but not limited to, occurring in some sort of medical environment) that scare the daylight out of me are a walk in the park for her.  But it could also be considered a double-edged swor...uhh, I mean, that's all for this question!

What's your favorite thing to do with your wife? (ahem, keep it clean).
Going on long road trips by ourselves, (or more recently with quiet/sleeping kids).  There's something about being locked in a car with nowhere to hide out or seclude to that inspires bolder/healthier conversations.  Even when we're done talking, just sharing the same exact agenda for a couple of hours is a good thing to do (in moderation of course). 
And folding laundry... that's the cleanest thing I could think of involving me... and her... and random clothes on/around the bed.

What are you most excited for the future with your wife?
Sharing every given experience with her and accomplishing marital, family and financial goals. 

How do you make your wife feel loved?
By letting her choose whatever vacuum cleaner she'd like for her birthday.
Totally kidding!!
By doing the little things; the expected and most importantly the unexpected.  Getting her flowers on a Tuesday, filling up her water cup at night, taking over with the kids when she's had a long day, telling her she's beautiful, listening to her, remembering anniversaries, planning birthday part... errr, umm, just overall being a perfect husband by doing all of these things all the time ;)

He blew me away...
As he usually does.

The Value of a SAHM


According to a recent study, Stay-at-home Moms annual salary should be around $112,962.  


In case you don't want to squint at the picture below, it says:
"The yearly salary a 2012 stay-at-home mom would earn (that is, if she were paid), as determined by the career-advice website  The income ws calculated by combining the average wages, plus overtime, for the jobs a mom typically performs, including laundress, janitor, driver, cook, facilities manager, psychologist and CEO (of the household).  The results also showed that the average stay-at-home mom works a grueling 94.7-hour week and would make an average of $22.94 an hour."

Well, at least SOMEONE sees it! haha.

I love reading things like this because it puts a hard factual value on what I do on a daily basis.  Yes, I do the laundry, groceries, cook and pick up the house.  I am a referee and a nanny.  I am a teacher and a psychologist.  I am a driver and a play mate.  My day starts at 7:45am and doesn't end till 10pm.  I work weekends and holidays and never get vacation or sick days.  That's the life of a SAHM.

Many husbands… not mine… but many, discredit SAHM's and say things like:
"My job is to bring home the money and yours is to take care of the kids".
"Well, all you do is play all day".
"I'm sure you've had a hard day of watching tv and playing at the park today…"

These husbands think that since they go to an actual job and bring home an actual paycheck that not only what they do is more important, but also that it is a free pass to not have to take care of their children.  When I hear stories like this, my heart breaks for the mothers who are undervalued and under-appreciated. 

Aside from the estimated value we should be earning for everything we do, we are also saving a lot of money by staying home.  In a few weeks, my friend will be going back to work full time after having her baby.  She has hired a nanny to come to her home and care for her child instead of daycare.  This nanny will charge $1,000 a month for one baby.  When I have looked into daycare for my two kids, the cheapest I have found has been around $1,750 for both!  If I were to work, I'd only be making a little more than the cost of said daycare… and we'd have less time together and more stress!  No thanks.  By not working, we save money on food as we eat all of our meals at home.  We save money on gas, as the farthest we drive is to the local park.  

Yes, living off of one paycheck is an EXTREME sacrifice.  We can't afford to furnish our house with Pottery Barn things.  We can't afford to take family vacations every year.  We can't afford to buy new cars.  But we do what we can to cut corners and save money wherever possible. 

And it is HARD work… as the report above said, "grueling".  It's physically exhausting, emotional draining and mentally starving.  At the end of most days, you feel like you've run a marathon, cried a bucket and had no intelligent conversation.  On Saturday's all I want to do is sleep till 11, but for some reason, my kids haven't gotten the memo that weekends are for sleeping in!  Kids still need to be fed and be dressed and have diapers changed and go release their energy.

SAHM's, take heart!  What you are doing is valuable… even though we don't receive a paycheck that we can deposit in the bank.  Never ever feel like you are not contributing to your household because your job doesn't pay cold hard cash.  What you do every single day makes a greater contribution to your household than money ever could!  You are shaping a life!  You are forming tight bonds with your children that will last throughout their lives.  You are enriching the lives of your children by putting their needs above your own.  You are teaching them the true meaning of love through your sacrifice!  And that?  You can't put a price tag on that!  

And besides, our paychecks are so much better than cash.  We get paid in snuggles and kisses and cuddles and in kind words like, "i love you mommy" or "thank you".  We get paid in snot noses and tears and heads on shoulders and sobs and even tantrums.  But I don't want anyone else to receive MY hard earned paycheck!  I want every last penny! (Ok, I could do without the tantrums). 

But you know what's really funny.  If someone decided to start giving SAHM's a real paycheck of $112,962 a year, I'm pretty sure husbands would never say another negative comment again.  Who can we call to make that happen?!

Dirty Jobs

The curse of buying an old house is that there are always repairs to be done that cost a lot of money and are no fun at all.

We knew this going into it.  It's not a surprise to us.

Our house was built in 1956 and thankfully the construction, materials and overall quality of the house is top notch.  But maintenance is required and can become pricey.  Since buying the house, we've had to replace the roof, which had not been redone since it was built over 50 years ago!  This depleted our savings ($13,000), but it was worth it since we probably wont have to think about it again for another 50 years! 

This was a dirty job.

After pealing back our old roof and hauling away all the dirt, they had to lay down tar.  And tar stinks... like really, really stinks.  The entire interior of the home stunk like tar for over 2 days.  After they laid down the roofing strips, they sprinkled small pebbles all over. And when it rained, all those pebbles came down to our driveway, creating a sand-like mess all over the place! 

That dirty job is complete!

Before we moved in, we had to get the pool cleaned. It was absolutely disgusting.  It looked more like a swamp than a pool.  It was green, thick and mucky... and I'm pretty sure it had become a haven for mosquito mating.  Gross, gross, gross.  

I contacted a pool guy about cleaning it and he quoted me at $600 to start and if it was really, really bad, the price would be higher.

Well, my husband, Mr. FixIt, did NOT intend on spending that much money on a job he could easily do himself.  So he and his dad rented a pump and drained the pool of all the swampy water.  Then they pressure cleaned the sides and literally had to scoop out the remaining gunk.  It. Was. Gross. 

This was a dirty job. I did have pictures of this dirty job but I think it may have been so gross that I deleted them!

But thankfully, that dirty job is complete and our pool is a gorgeous shade of crystal blue now and we saved over $600!

Once we drained the pool, we realized that we do not have city sewer... we have the dreaded septic tank!  This too can be expected when buying an older home... but ewwwww, seriously?!

The frightening part was that we had no idea the condition of our tank.  The close of the house came with no paperwork for it, so we had no clue.  We called a company to get it pumped because we figured we may as well take care of it BEFORE a problem arrose.  And, once it was empty, we could actually KNOW the state of the tank.  

This was a dirty job.

The septic company quoted us at $250 for the pumping, but when he found, dug up and opened the tank, the condition of it was so bad, that he had to raise the price nearly double!  I was standing there when he opened it up and the smell... it just smacked me square in the face. The tank was full... to the top.  The man told us that we were lucky if we had a few more months before it started backing up... into our house.  Boy, what a mess that would have been!  He told us that the tank was supposed to consist of 90% water and 10% waste... but ours was about 90% waste with 10% water... it was a thick disgusting mess.  He said septic tanks are supposed to be pumped every 2-3 years, but it looked like our tank had not been cleaned in over 15 years!  
That's 15 years worth of crap!  Ahhh, sooooo gross!!!

So nearly $500 later, this dirty job is complete!  And thankfully, we don't have to think about our tank for 3 more years.

There are more dirty jobs around our house to be done.  Mauricio has been trimming and pulling trees for weeks now and there's still so much to do.  The screen above our pool is falling apart and needs to be reattached but there are tons of spider webs up there.  And we also need to fumigate since we have lots of little sugar ants and worms coming into our house on a daily basis!

Unfortunately all of these dirty jobs cost a pretty penny, which is taking all of our "fun house money" away.  I want our "fun house money" for buying furniture, picking exterior paint colors, and basically beautifying.

But I know I have to be patient and get the dirty work done first.

Ahh, the joys of homeownership!

Homeschooling Update

We moved into our new house about a month ago now and homeschooling has been put on the back burner.  And by back burner, I mean perhaps the grill outside.  

I have totally dropped the ball.  

How do I feel about it?  A little bit like a failure and a little bit like, eh, whatever. 

I try to guilt myself:  "What's wrong with you?  Why can't you just get your act together to do a few activities with the boys a week?  Why are you so selfish?  It's not hard after all!"

And then I try to justify it to myself: "Well, they are only 2 and 3... it's not like the HAVE to go to school, and besides, they're pretty smart already.  We don't have internet at the new house, so it's too hard for me to plan.  Well, at least we still read to them.  Well at least we watch educational television like PBS.  Well, at least..."

So as you can tell, I'm conflicted.

I was so gung ho about it in the summer but that was mostly because I had no activities in the summer.  I was beyond bored in the summer.  But now that all my activities started back up, I'm busier and I'm less motivated- (another excuse).  The only REAL days I can commit to homeschooling is Monday and Tuesday, but even then I cop out and don't do it. 

I'm being a bit hard on myself here though... I have done SOME activities with the boys... but not nearly as many as I would have liked by this point.  

Remember my original goal was to do 1 week's worth of curriculum (one letter) over the course of two weeks?  Well... by THAT plan we should already be on the letter E... but we're still on the letter C.  

Some activities we have done:

Played Dominoes: Marco loved doing this!

Finger Painted:  Jonas made a big mess but was so happy.  Marco didn't want to get dirty so he didn't do much.

We've done a few other things as well.  And we're still getting the suggested library books and reading them consistently.  

I still love the curriculum we got... it's so creative and fun.  I just need to get back into it and become motivated.

But I have decided that I'll be putting Marco in school for K4 next year.  Apparently I can't count on myself to be as consistent as needed.  Hats off to all you homeschooling mommies... you're pretty amazing!

Like Playing 20(,000) Questions

I know it's just the age.  
And I know it's not going to get better anytime soon.
But lately, every time Marco opens his mouth, it's to ask me a question.

Sometimes I feel like we're playing 20 (thousand) questions!
This is his "Huh?" face.
His questions go round and round and round and I find myself repeating myself and becoming frustrated at the never ending stream.

I'll give you an example.  Warning: by the end of this example you may, or may not feel incredibly stressed.

This is an excerpt taken from an actual conversation that occurred after Mauricio's car got picked up by a tow truck.

Marco: Mom, is that Mater? (as in Mater the tow truck from Cars)
Me:  Yes, it's a tow truck just like Mater.
Marco: But why is it red?  Mater's not red, he's brown!
Me:  Because maybe I think that's Mater's cousin. 
Marco:  What's he doing with Daddy's car?
Me:  Daddy's car broke down and so he's taking it to the shop.
Marco:  Where's the shop?
Me:  I don't know… we have to follow the truck because he knows where to go.
Marco:  But is it far?
Me:  I don't know… we'll find out soon.
Marco:  And what are they gonna do in the shop?
Me:  Fix Daddy's car.
Marco:  How?
Me:  I don't know… first they have to see what's wrong with it.
Marco:  What's wrong with it?
Me:  I don't know.
Marco:  Where's Daddy?
Me:  He's in the tow truck with the driver.
Marco:  But why?
Me:  Because Daddy has to stay with his car.
Marco:  But why?
Me:  Because that's Daddy's car.
Marco:  But where are they going?
Me:  To the shop to get the car fixed.
Marco:  Is it far?

And round and round and round and round it goes…

Ok, take a minute and relax… your shoulders are probably tense after that… mine are!

Here's the thing.  After about 5 questions, I'm ready to scream my head off "NO MORE QUESTIONS!" but I'm trying really, really hard not to do that.

I'm finding that this is a challenging issue because while on the one hand, he's annoying the heck out of me, on the other hand, I don't want to squash his inquisitiveness or make him feel like he can't ask questions.

I remember being four years old and also being rather inquisitive.  My mother always reminds me of such times… It was my "But Why Mommy" phase.  And she too would eventually become exasperated and yell, "BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT'S WHY!".  While I'm pretty sure she didn't scar me for life, this is not the approach I want to take with my children. (Sorry mom!)

First of all, girls are different than boys.  I know there is nothing she could have or can ever say to make me shut up.  I have always and will always talk to my mom.  But like I said, girls are different than boys.  There will come a time, when my boys are teens, and they just stop talking.  It's typical teenage boy talk.  "How was your day?" "Fine" "How was school?" "Boring" "Did you learn anything?" "No".  But I think that that might make me more exasperated than playing 20 (thousand) questions!  At that point, I may scream "GIVE ME MORE QUESTIONS!" 

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I've ever heard was that if you want your children to talk to you about the BIG stuff later on, then you've got to talk to them about the LITTLE stuff now.  Because even though it may seem like LITTLE stuff to you, it's probably BIG stuff to them.  And you've gotta always keep them talking… never to close the lines of communication. If the lines of communication get closed right now, it's 100% my fault and 100% due to my selfishness.  

I don't want to be the mom that yells "NO MORE QUESTIONS!".  I want to be the mom that continues through 3 or 7 or 38 rounds of 20 questions.  I want to be the mom who practices her patience and shows grace and love to her children.  I want to be the mom who says "well, let's find out" and opens up her laptop.  I want to scour the web searching for answers with my kids and seeing them connect the dots and find new things to ponder over.  I want to be the mom that encourages their inquisitiveness and develops their desire for learning more and knowing more.  

But how can I become that mom if I'm not willing to answer a hundred questions about where the tow truck is going?  If I'm not willing to answer those questions, why would he trust me to answer any other ones he has?

So, I'm challenging myself to become the mom I want to be.  I'm going to continue to take deep breaths and brace myself for the longest game of 20 questions I've ever played… even if it lasts years!  

And hopefully it will.

Unleash! by Perry Noble


Perry Noble, senior pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, challenges readers to Unleash! the life that God has in store for them and to put their past to rest. 

Within his book, he explains how God's desire is to have us live our best life now by walking in His path and by letting go of a past that enslaves us.  He compares all of our challenges with the story of David from the Bible.  Now, most of us would dare say we have absolutely nothing in common with the same David that found favor with God.  The same David that was anointed as a child, brought down a giant and became one of the most revered kings in history.  But Perry specifically outlines how his struggles and ours are not so different. 

Just as God chose David to be anointed, God chooses us to be His children.  Just as David had to fight Goliath, the giant, so we have to fight metaphorical "giants" in our lives.  God is not looking for someone who is perfect… David was far from perfect.  David was a poor shepherd boy who no one ever suspected would become king.  And then once king, he became an adulterer and a murderer.  And yet… God found favor with him.  

In his book, Perry offers hilarious and gritty stories about his life and how he's learned these lessons.  He speaks about how coming to know the Lord and Jesus has changed him and in doing so he offers hope to everyone who reads his book.  Perry does not beat around the bush… he is dead set on Biblical teachings and does not care if he makes people uncomfortable about it.  He wants everyone to know that the ONLY truth is Jesus.  But he also wants everyone to know that God is not sitting on His throne in Heaven waiting to smite all of the sinners… He wants people to know that God is loving, compassionate and fatherly.  "God is not after or begrudging submission.  He is after our joy" (pg.9)  

I highly recommend this book for anyone who just can't seem to let go of their past.  To anyone who thinks that God can't possibly forgive them for what they've done.  To anyone who thinks that their problems are too big.  To anyone who feels hopeless.  Within these pages you'll learn about a Savior who's love knows no limits and who can't wait to call you His own.  

I had the privilege of being a member of NewSpring church for the 3 years that I lived in South Carolina and I have never seen a pastor more captivatingly true, real and passionate about his call to ministry and Jesus.  He is doing some truly incredible things across the state of South Carolina and reaching throughout the world to impact churches and people in need.  You can listen to his sermons by downloading the FREE NewSpring App or by visiting

And don't forget to pick up a copy of his book.  You'll be so glad you did!

Pink Olive Wreath Giveaway!

It's that time again!
Time to introduce you to another fabulous little Etsy shop, show off the goods and give one away!  Yay!

If you've been on Pinterest lately, you've been noticing a common theme... wreaths.  It's all the rave for Fall!  Everyone just has to have a wreath hanging on their door during this season.

But why not get one that can hang year round?  And a personalized one to boot?!

Helloooooooo Pink Olive!

The Pink Olive carries all types of wreaths, from rustic to chic, from modern to traditional.  Some of my personal faves are:
Isn't this perfect for Spring time?
A Fall time classic
Modern and sweet!

But my PERSONAL favorite... because it happens to be MINE and currently hangs on my front door is:

I got it in the mail just a few days ago and squealed with excitement upon opening it!  I LOVE IT!  Rachel (owner of The Pink Olive) worked with me on all the details and designed exactly what I wanted.  I love green and she just added the right amount of it!  This is definitely something I would be happy to display year round.  But in all honesty, it's so nice that it makes my door look dingy... so now I just have to convince Mauricio to buy us a new door to go with our beautiful new wreath! haha! 

So now, it's time for ONE of my lucky readers to win a wreath of your very own! 

And if you're not the lucky winner, don't worry, Rachel has graciously offered FREE shipping on all orders using the code "Tablefor4".  So head on over to The Pink Olive, support a small business and add some seriously awesome swag to your door! 

5 Ways to Enter!  Ready, Set, GOOOO!

Jonas' Birthday Dinner

On Friday, Jonas turned TWO!

He didn't know it was his birthday, or even what a birthday was, really, but when he woke up, I could here Marco talking to him over the monitor saying, "Joooonaaaas, it's your BIRTHDAY!" and Jonas giggling.  Then when I walked in and said, "Good morning birthday boy!" he was ALL smiles!

Throughout the day, we didn't say much to him about his birthday... we just went along our usual business... library to exchange books, music class, lunch at home and nap.

But when he woke up, he knew things were different.  My mom was there, and more people started coming over!  I stuck with my plan and only had a family birthday dinner for him... which by the way cost me $100... in case you were wondering.  We had the kids' grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins over... about 14 adults, 3 kids and 1 baby.  It was perfect!

I made crockpot chicken tacos (recipe found here) with all the fixin's... and then we had cake, ice cream and flan for dessert! YUMMO!

Jonas was so happy to have the attention of all his family!  His favorite gift was from my dad and step-mom... the movie, Toy Story 3.  He held onto it for dear life throughout the party.  And he kept running back and forth with his arms outstretched, yelling, "AND BEYOOOOOND!"  He was thrilled!

This boy... he's hilarious!

We were so happy to have had his birthday celebration be the first of many many celebrations in our new home!